The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers

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Overview


From geraniums to begonias, the common plants that often adorn backyard gardens are rarely native to our region. The same goes for many of the diverse and delicious fruits and vegetables that grace our dinner tables. We take their accessibility and ubiquity for granted, unaware of the great debt we owe to the naturalists and explorers who traveled around the world in search of these then unusual plants and brought back samples and seeds—along with fantastic stories. In The Plant Hunters, Carolyn Fry pays homage ...
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Overview


From geraniums to begonias, the common plants that often adorn backyard gardens are rarely native to our region. The same goes for many of the diverse and delicious fruits and vegetables that grace our dinner tables. We take their accessibility and ubiquity for granted, unaware of the great debt we owe to the naturalists and explorers who traveled around the world in search of these then unusual plants and brought back samples and seeds—along with fantastic stories. In The Plant Hunters, Carolyn Fry pays homage to those whose obsession with plants gave rise to our own passion for botanicals and gardening.

Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred images from the archives at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, The Plant Hunters offers an accessible history of plant exploration and discovery through short, informative entries. From the naturalists of Alexander the Great’s entourage to pioneering botanists such as Joseph Hooker, Joseph Banks, and Alexander von Humboldt, Fry’s history covers the globe in its celebration of our fascination with plants. She shows how coconut trees and numerous fruits and vegetables were spread from one country to many, and the significant role that newly discovered plants, including tulips, tea, and rubber, have played in economic history. The Plant Hunters also traces the establishment of botanical gardens and the many uses of plants in medicine. In addition to stunning botanical drawings, the book features several unique facsimiles, including a letter from Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy; extracts from Joseph Hooker’s notebooks; an extract from the orchid sketchbook of John Day; and an original map of Kew Gardens made in 1740 by Jean Rocque.

This gorgeous and entertaining history will be a perfect gift for gardeners, and anyone fascinated by the intersection of the histories of science and discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

New Scientist

“In The Plant Hunters, Carolyn Fry sketches out humankind’s enduring hunger for botanical riches. She steps back 3,500 years to Ancient Egypt, then visits different parts of the globe and celebrates the contributions of important personalities like Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks. This journey is told through a series of lavishly illustrated two-page spreads, each distilling an episode in the history of plant collecting down to its most engaging details. . . . Full of fun facts, intriguing asides.”
English Garden

“Carolyn Fry’s lavish book . . . takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the human history of the botanical world.”
Shelf Awareness

"From ancient Egypt to 17th-century tulipomania to Joseph Hooker in the Himalaya to modern-day seed stockpiling, this handsome slipcased book is a delight."
Winner - British Book Design and Production Award

Scholarly, Academic and Reference Books category
Current Books

"In this fascinating book, Carolyn Fry records the adventures of plant explorers around the globe, those individuals responsible for initial discoveries in exotic locales, botanical artists responsible for illustrations, and modern scientists focusing on the care of plants and the conservation of endangered species. Removable, facsimile documents, secured in envelopes within the text block, provide intriguing information for the reader."
Wall Street Journal

“Delightfully, the book includes pouches filled with facsimile documents, like sketches of rare orchids. It’s like finding precious leaves pressed between the pages.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226093314
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 9/23/2013
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 235,846
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Carolyn Fry is a journalist and a former editor of Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society. She lives in the United Kingdom.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    Great gift for the plant lover and history buff on your gift list!

    The Plant Hunters ***ribbon***
    Author - Carolyn Fry
    Favorite Features -
    *includes more than 100 images from the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as well as drawings/sketches of plants from across time and around the world
    *enclosures throughout with facsimiles of documents, books and more really add a nice and special touch to this book
    *fascinating information on Tulipomania
    *covers first known transfer of plants from one place to another and follows it through the centuries
    *explains how plants were perused for pharmacies and profit and documents the exploitation of people for plants like sugar cane, rubber and tea
    *encourages conservation of plants
    *warns of invasive plant species

    As the author says, this book, "tells how plants were moved across the world". Before reading this book I never realized the power, wealth and control that came with owning and transporting plants. Not only is The Plant Hunters a genuinely lovely book with all the drawings, photos and sketches of incredible plants, but it is also fascinating to read and get a glimpse into where plants originated, how they were moved around the world and the history associated with it all - both positive and sadly, negative. This is a wonderful gift for the person on your list who loves plants and history and makes a lovely and interesting coffee table book. Tremendously well done!

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